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September 05, 2009

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K.

It being September, how about a little garden roundup from the readership?

Despite a blistering heat wave, my tomatoes are only now ripening properly. The standouts were the Ukranian blacks, mahogany colored bodies with green shoulders and a nice rich tomato taste. Great for slicing. I've been making pasta sauces with whatever heirlooms I collect that are too poorly formed for eating, and the results are just heavenly. Plate licking good.

Peppers are better this year, but still not yielding well. Likely I'll do them in pots in the front yard, which is almost desert like in midsummer. That said, Jimmy Nardellos were a standout, prolific and early ripening and sweet/hot goodness.

A great year for figs and prunes, I now have enough dried figs to last a year at least, and enough prunes to feed an army. A fresh prune is really a plum, and the bad associations with the name are completely unfounded. Drying them produced an OK product, but fresh or frozen is where it's at. The figs on the other hand _must_ be dried, as the fresh ones last only a few days and drying concentrates the sugars and make the whole taste like candy. In fact, I discovered chopped figs and honey applied to a graham cracker makes for a tasty desert.

Another thing about figs and prunes. The pleasure of eating them is matched by the pleasure of picking them. In the early morning hours, when things are still silent, you climb up your ladder into the waiting tree. Each fruit is felt for ripeness, the only way to determine when to pick. After about an hour of this, the humming birds begin to come, drawn by the smell. The shade of the Redwood and Doug Firs keeps everything cool well into the morning, so the work goes very easy and without sweat or strain. Bees amble by, looking to pollinate things, and pass without concern for the big monkey. Golden hours, these.

Herbs all did well; much basil oregano and thyme. After trying a few methods of preservation, I am finding that mixing the raw herb with olive oil and freezing to be the best way to preserve the fresh flavor. Pine nuts are so expensive now, and my stone pine is only 2 feet tall, so for now pesto is being made with toasted walnuts. By the way, don't be a fool and use a blender for this, _chop_ the ingredients with one of those half moon shaped knives in a steel bowl. You want a fine textured mix, not a paste. Despite growing about 50 basil plants, there will never be enough pesto.

As always, there were some spectacular failures. Young cuke plants were all eaten by birds, and the broccoli never sprouted. About the only thing I've had good luck direct seeding were snow peas and beans. Squash were OK but doing them in pots in the front yard was a mistake. Too hot. Still having difficulty getting the caneberries to bear properly, but this year there were no deer so I have some nice solid raspberry canes now ready to bear fruit next year.

texas scott

wow.what storytellers you both are.
please,i'm begging,tell us more!

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